In a New Zealand Herald article called Time to defy the worship of growth the writer John Peet calls for a new economics that isn’t based on the bankrupt ideology of growth. Of course many others have been banging on this theme for a long time, including myself. Books like The Limits to Growth, Beyond Growth, Prosperity without Growth and The End of Growth all explain the dire need for economic growth to end.
The idea of a steady-state economy has been promoted by a number of thinkers and was expounded by the nineteenth century philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill who eloquently explained the benefits of such an economy:
“It is scarcely necessary to remark that a stationary condition of capital and population implies no stationary state of human improvement. There would be as much scope as ever for all kinds of mental culture, and moral and social progress; as much room for improving the Art of Living and much more likelihood of its being improved, when minds cease to be engrossed by the art of getting on.”
Studies show that when people are ‘engrossed by the art of getting on’ they tend to be less happy. People are driven to overwork, accumulate debt and defer happiness so that they can ‘keep up with the Jones’ by consuming more.
What is the point of prosperity if it just makes us want more prosperity? When is enough enough? The fact is we simply don’t know that we have enough because we are continuously told that we don’t.
What will happen if we stop growing the economy and improve it through redistribution of wealth, fairer trade, restoration of natural capital, greater resource efficiency and redirection of human energy toward social progress and sustainable wellbeing for all?
We will ALL be better off, that’s what.
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